Kalyn Ponga sacked himself as Knights’ goal-kicker last season after a wayward day with the boot in Tamworth left him wanting to “clear his mind”.
It turned out to be the only area of his game where the brilliant young Knights star failed to excel.
While sharp-shooters like James Maloney, Gareth Widdop and Cameron Smith all kicked at better than 80 percent for the season, Ponga’s stats were 27 goals from 39 attempts, a success rate of just over 69 percent.
But despite having plenty on his plate with his fulltime move to five-eighth next season, it won’t stop the 20-year-old putting his hand up for the job again.
Asked yesterday during a visit to John Hunter Childrens’ Hospital whether he was keen to take on the goal-kicking duties again, Ponga didn’t hesitate.
“I want to do that, yeah. It’s something I want to work on,” he said.
“I’ll have an opportunity to actually work on it in the pre-season and take an ownership role there.
“My ankle will be sweet so yeah, I want to be the goal-kicker.”
With winger Ken Sio, who took over kicking from Ponga last season, no longer at the club, there are few other options within the squad.
Warriors recruit Mason Lino and young hooker Zac Woolford are both quality goal-kickers but neither are guaranteed a place in the top 17 next season.
When told he might get the job by default due to lack of options, he said: “Good –that means I’ve got it.”
Ponga kicked 15 goals from 17 attempts in the opening five rounds last season but missed two against Melbourne in round six and than landed just one from five against the Wests Tigers the following week in Tamworth.
That sapped his confident and he handed the job to Sio who, ironically, ended the season with a worse success rate than Ponga.
Ponga did resume the role in round 13 against Parramatta, landing five from six in a 30-4 win and then kicked four from four against the Roosters a week later but injured his hamstring against the Bulldogs in round 16 and didn’t kick again for the rest of the season.
The good news for Knights fans is Ponga is back in full training after off-season surgery to re-attach a ligament in his foot and have bone spurs removed.
"I am getting there. I’m back full time training which is good,” Ponga said.
“It is still a little bit annoying but that is all part of rehab - I am pretty happy with it.”
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With the emphasis heavily on defence during pre-season training, Ponga said his new combination with Mitchell Pearce in the halves is a work in progress.
“The little bit of time we’ve had felt pretty good,” he said.
“We just have to build on what we did last year. In attack, not much will change. It’s just about learning what each other does and how each other moves.
“But at the end of the day, our focus is defence and it’s sort of what we are looking at in the pre-season.”